Full probate is time consuming and expensive. As an alternative, many states have created special rules for “small estates” that make the process go faster and cheaper. In Missouri, to qualify as a Small Estate, the value of the estate must be less than $40,000. Missouri Statute 473.097 sets out when a Small Estate can be used.
Steps in a small estate
To take advantage of the Small Estate statutes, the following conditions must be met:
(1) the entire estate must be worth less than $40,000 (subtract debts and liens from the value);
(2) 30 days must have passed since the decedent passed away;
(3) unless excused by the Court, a bond must be secured; (in Cape Girardeau County and surrounding counties, the Court will usually waive the bond requirement) and
(4) when required, notice must be published to potential creditors.
Any distributee may then prepare an Affidavit (a written statement made under oath) that states:
- Whether the decedent had a Will,
- A list of all of the decedent’s assets,
- A list of all of the decedent’s debts and liabilities and assets,
- The names and information of the persons entitled to receive the property along with the facts that establish their right to the decedent’s property (for example, Jane is entitled to receive car because she is the surviving spouse of John).
The Affidavit must be filed with the clerk. If approved by the court, the court will issue a Court Order allowing the affiant to collect the estate property, pay any debts and liabilities, and distribute the estate property to the proper individuals.
how long does a small estate take?
Clients often ask, “how long does a Small Estate take?” Each case is different and unique so one case may be resolved quickly while another may take months. That said, we often see Small Estates handled from start to finish within one month. Do you have a Small Estate that you need help with? We’re happy to help. Just call.